12/18/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Every day that a lesbian or gay soldier has to go out into the field and be afraid of being exposed is a day when they are not at their maximum performance, and yet, Senator John McCain followed the lead of Marine Commandant General James F. Amos in claiming that people will be distracted if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and they might lose an eye, a limb, or a life. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of soldiers do not see a problem serving with lesbians and gays who are open. For Senator John McCain and others this is a matter of life and death to their bigotry.
Senator McCain called this day a ‘sad day’ because of what General Amos said about loss of limbs while he, basically, spat on the service of former Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, the first person to be wounded in the Iraq War, and an openly gay former Marine.
He also told Captain Cox that he was wrong despite the fact that the man is a Marine infantry captain who has said that General James Amos is wrong on this issue.
Unlike McCain and Amos, both Alva and Cox are a credit to the uniform and to the services.
Senators Collins, Brown, Snowe, Murkowski, and Voinavich voted ‘yes’.
Today, the votes were cast, and the results were 63 yea 33 nay.
This is the statement from JD Smith of OutServe, an active duty military organization which supports repeal of DADT:
“Today’s vote by the Senate is a step forward for America. Today our military is stronger, our nation is stronger, and we are closer than ever to the day when our integrity will no longer be compromised. The vote to proceed to cloture on the repeal of the law barring honest military service by lesbian and gay soldiers is a victory for the thousands of lesbian and gay troops currently serving and a tribute to lesbian and gay veterans and those who have lost their lives defending our country.
OutServe looks forward to the day that repeal of this law is signed by our Commander in Chief and we can all begin to serve openly and honestly. We will remove the cloud that hangs over our gay and lesbian troops and live in a world where constantly worrying about losing everything we work and live for could be in jeopardy will finally end. As we await the implementation of repeal, expected to happen over the next year, OutServe is sensitive to the needs of our active duty troops and will remain a partner in making that transition smooth. There will come a moment when it will finally be completely safe to ‘come out’ and OutServe will be there to support the troops – gay and straight – when that day comes, hopefully soon.
There are so many people and organizations to whom OutServe is grateful as we celebrate being one step closer to equality. We won today’s vote because of the leadership of President Obama and our military leaders that have advocated for repeal. Our deepest thanks go to all of the organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly for nearly 20 years. And our deepest thanks and admiration go to the troops discharged under DADT and proud veterans who sacrificed so much to educate the public and affect change at the policy level.”
SLDN issued the following statement:
“Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they’re still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
“We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today — Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today’s bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid’s determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President,” Sarvis said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement. She made one of the more impassioned speeches on the floor of the Senate in favor of repealing DADT today.
“The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded. For nearly two decades this corrosive policy has required service members to lie about who they are. We’ve lost more than 13,000 of our best and brightest to this unjust and discriminatory policy. By repealing this policy, we will increase America’s strength – both militarily and morally.
“I want to thank the service men and women who have been victimized by this disastrous policy, but have bravely fought back, and every senator who stood up today and did what was right. I am confident we will proceed with repeal of this discriminatory policy in a way that ensures that the U.S. military continues to be the best fighting force in the world.”
To cap it off, Dave Weigel tweeted
You know who we pissed off today? Taliban soldiers about to be killed by a military with openly gay troops.